It’s the 10th anniversary of my divorce.
We’d been together 15 years and were devoted to each other. We both had prior relationships, but remained ever faithful until I returned home to experience yet another dead battery. My beloved candy apple red, 1990 Acura Integra sports coupe had weathered another winter garaged in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and, despite occasional check-ups by friends, I was faced with buying another battery and seeing rust and other deterioration in my engine.
I’d been in India for months documenting the construction of a model energy efficient house in Kerala with the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development. The Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan routinely experiences six metres of snow with the “lake effect” winds blowing over Lake Superior from a place called Canada. Since I was months away annually, it was time to review transportation arrangements. I could walk, cycle, or use our small on-demand buses for a reasonable fee. My car and I should part company.
Friends cautioned: You’ll have to plan ahead. It’ll take more time to get places. You can’t carry as much. I responded: “yes, yes, and yes.”
However, it was time to live my life differently. I became adept at efficiently organizing my travel and toting only what I could carry. Since I wasn’t spending the then calculated average cost of $6,000 U.S. annually for expenses for vehicle ownership, I had taxi money for occasional trips at odd times and carried gas money for friends.
Penticton has now been home base for nine years. I selected it in part because it’s a relatively flat, compact city so I can walk, cycle and use its good bus service. I still budget for occasional taxi use and contributions to friends for rides. However, long distance travel is now a greater challenge. I took my final Greyhound bus trip to Vancouver near the end of October and am now resigned to boots nailed to floorboards until more options for safe, affordable long distance land travel materialize. My one big travel concession to huge fossil fuel use next year will be a visit to India.
I do fondly remember my life with my beloved little red car. However, I live with the benefits of becoming more mindful of not only decisions about food, clothing, and shelter, but also transportation. World population was about 2.4 billion when I showed up at the end of the Second World War as part of the baby boom generation; now it’s 7.6 billion. Relinquishing the delight and freedom of auto mobility with the aid of its elegant and oh so versatile petrochemicals as fuel is part of rebalancing a personal lifestyle.